Take two young men with hot tempers, add in a Samurai sword, a drug deal and a gun — and you get Trouble. And that's just what happened, last Feb. 11, when they were involved in the shooting of a 20-year-old Centreville man.
Both men are now behind bars. Antoine Benson, 21, of 2414 Hamlin Place N.E., in Washington, D.C., was sentenced Sept. 6 to eight years in prison. And last Friday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Derrick Taylor, 18, of 13504 Antonia Ford Court in Centreville's Singleton's Grove community, was given four years incarceration.
Nearly a year ago, the pair went to the home of the victim — an acquaintance of Taylor's — and the victim invited them into the basement. Benson then shot the victim in the shoulder.
He and Taylor fled, and the victim was treated for a non-life-threatening injury. Police nabbed Taylor at his home; they arrested Benson on Feb. 27. Both were charged with malicious wounding and pleaded guilty in court.
Benson's attorney said Taylor was having a problem with the victim over a failed drug deal and Benson was backing his friend. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Julie Mitchell said the victim answered the door with a Samurai sword, but lowered it when he saw Taylor, who he knew.
"But then Taylor nodded and stepped aside, and Benson came in and shot the victim," said Mitchell. "The victim turned and took two bullets in the left-shoulder area."
At Taylor's sentencing, Friday, public defender Vanessa Antoun told Judge Jane Roush that he'd been evaluated for and accepted into the Youthful Offender Program. Located at St. Bride's Correctional Center in Chesapeake, it's for people ages 14-21 — mostly first-time offenders.
"It's not a Sunday picnic in the park," said Roush. "It's an adult prison with some attempt at providing services [to the inmates]. But it is preferable to a straight sentence in a penitentiary."
Antoun said the average stay there is 18-24 months, and Roush said Taylor's sentencing guidelines called for "upwards of six years." Taylor then apologized, and Roush said, "This was certainly an unusual case. It was your first offense, malicious wounding — actually, attempted murder — and it's very troubling to me."
She then committed him to the Department of Corrections for a four-year, indeterminate term — the guidelines' midpoint. "You can shorten the sentence, depending on your behavior," she told Taylor. "I would urge you to go down there with a good attitude and give it your best shot."
Antoun was pleased because, there, he'll receive work training, life skills and counseling. "It'll be more productive for him than just learning how to do other bad things from [adult] inmates," she said.